The Registrar of Companies is a statutory role and the Registrar has administrative independence in the exercise of this function.
I have not received correspondence directly from the body referred to by the Deputy in relation to the CRO IT system but I am aware that the Registrar of Companies has been in correspondence. A major upgrade of the CRO IT system went live with effect from 16th December 2020. This was a significant modernisation project which greatly increases the range of documents that can be filed electronically, with resulting efficiency gains for both business and the CRO. The new CRO cloud-based IT platform is designed to provide improved and faster user experience for presenters and a fully paperless interaction with the CRO for certain transactions, including the most common ones carried out by companies such as the filing of annual returns and the changing of directors and their details. The introduction of a fully paperless system for these transactions provides certainty of delivery for companies. In addition, the new system allows for the go live of the new one-stage filing deadline of 56 days from a company's annual return date, over-hauling the previous two stage annual returns filing process.
I am informed that issues have been identified since go-live, the majority of which are of a relatively minor nature and generally not impeding the filing of documents. I am assured that such issues continue to be addressed on a prioritised basis, with the most significant having already been dealt with and the remaining issues being addressed over the coming weeks.
In relation to the filing of annual returns, the Registrar had taken a number of decisions during 2020 to assist companies experiencing challenges due to the Covid-19 situation. In October 2020, the Registrar announced that any company with an Annual Return Date from 30th September 2020 onwards would be deemed to have filed on time if all elements of the annual return were completed and filed by 26th February 2021. The Registrar has been keeping the situation under ongoing review. On 2nd February, my colleague, Robert Troy TD, Minister for Trade Promotion, Digital & Company Regulation announced the decision of the Registrar to extend the current filing arrangements, until 28th May 2021, for those companies with an Annual Return Date from 30th September 2020 onwards.